The sauropods of Star Wars: Special Edition

January 7, 2009


I ended the last post with this teaser:

There is another sauropod (sort of) in Episode IV (sort of), but I’ll wait a week before I blab about that one. I wonder if anyone will guess what it is in the meantime?

The mystery lasted all of a single comment. Several of you got it right, but the title of First (w00t w00t LOL!!1!!11!!) goes to Paul and his terse economical, “Would it be a ronto?”


It is apparently no secret that the Rontos briefly glimpsed in A New Hope: Special Edition and The Phantom Menace are morphed versions of the Brachiosaurus from Jurassic Park.


Here’s the official line, from the Star Wars Databank entry:

The rontos added into the Mos Eisley scenes for the Special Edition release of A New Hope are entirely computer-generated. It was a cousin of sorts to the digital models crafted for Jurassic Park; the ronto used a brachiosaur as a starting point with enough modification to make it distinctly Star Wars. Throughout the making of the sequence, the ILM animators referred to the otherwise nameless creature as a “bronto.” When asked to name the animal, George Lucas dropped the ‘b’ from the name, and thus the ronto was christened.

So now you know.

Rontos are apparently allergic to photography (possibly related to Nessie?), as I found just about zip for decent images in my exhaustive 10-minute web search.

I did learn that there is a competitive rib-eater named Ronto, who got a beat-down from Joey Chestnut, who ate 8.4 lbs of ribs in 12 minutes. Someday I will do a post about all the wacky search terms that bring people to SV-POW! “Basement” is always in the top 20, which must be a surprise for those folks who just want to remodel their cellar.

ANYWAY, the link to Brachiosaurus, no matter how tenuous, gives me an excuse to post this:



Next week we’ll get back to science. Almost certainly.

15 Responses to “The sauropods of Star Wars: Special Edition”

  1. Mike Keesey Says:

    Awfully mammalian-looking for a sauropod. But, wait, wasn’t the JP brachiosaur model derived from an elephant model in the first place? The cycle is complete!

  2. Julia Says:

    Paul is currently doing his “Happy Geek Dance” around the lounge on account of getting the correct answer. You wait – by SVP 2010 he’ll be presenting his own papers…

  3. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    Awesome last pic. If I ever make it there, I’m sure I’ll be slackjawed at the sight for 10 minutes at least.

  4. Paul Says:

    I didn’t mean to be terse, just geeky!

    This is the geek you’re looking for…

  5. Vertebrat Says:

    The prominent Brachiosaurus ribs in the last picture give a whole new interpretation to “competitive rib-eater”. o_O

  6. Andy Says:

    Slackjawed at the sight of Wedel or the sauropod? Not sure which is more awe-inspiring in person.

  7. Matt Wedel Says:

    I didn’t mean to be terse, just geeky!

    I should have said ‘laconic’.

    Slackjawed at the sight of Wedel or the sauropod? Not sure which is more awe-inspiring in person.

    Aw, garsh!

  8. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    Sorry, Matt, but I was referring to the sauropod. I’m sure you’re a magnificent specimen in real life and I’m sure (or at least I hope) that your wife tells you you are.

    Though I do occasionally sit slackjawed in wonder at the way you guys here at SV-POW! dig up and interpret the often scant remains of these awesome animals in ways that brings them to life and lets us non-paleontologists experience some of the joy of discovery that drives you. I’m sure you’ll forgive my perpetual state of thanks.

  9. DD Says:

    curious beasts those rontos. Are their cervicals well ventilated/sinusized/aerated/pneumaticized?

  10. Graham King Says:

    Hi Matt, I loved the Star Wars inside gen. No need to apologize… ever… for scifi diversions.

    As to the Jurass Par (et seq)dinos, weren’t they all super-sized somewhat? Brac, Steg, Velo… Spoiling the effect somewhat for me, I’m afraid. Reality is awesome enuf already.

    LOTR oliphaunts and wargs ditto. (Fantasy is awesome enuf already, too).

    Much tho I love James Gurney’s Dinotopia books, I feel the same megafaunal ersatz magnification may be seen there in instances.

    Can you opine as to any of the psychology (as distinct from mere commercial motives) driving this ubiquitous tendency?

    (Godzilla envy?)

  11. Mike Taylor Says:

    Matt and I disagreed about Jackson’s mumakil for a long time: based on their brief appearance in The Two Towers, I thought they were an unnecessary and ill-judged inflation, and I quoted extensively from the text to prove my point.

    But then I saw Return of the King, I was just blown away. Seeing those babies actually in action, sweeping away the Rohirrim like so many cockroaches, completely recalibrated my awesome-o-meter. Matt was right all along (and I don’t say that often).

  12. Graham King Says:

    and I quoted extensively from the text to prove my point.

    I would love to have been there to hear that!

    A man after my own heart… pedantry is a form of gallantry, don’t you think?

  13. […] before I blab about that one. I wonder if anyone will guess what it is in the meantime? Update: the reveal! (Which, okay, was not much of a reveal, since the answer was guessed by the first […]

  14. […] January 7, 2009: The sauropods of Star Wars: Special Edition […]

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